Doulas provide continuous support for the whole family through pregnancy, birth and the early days of parenthood. Filling a role that new mothers and families have always needed, we are there to listen, give confidence and not judge. Offering flexible, practical and emotional support we work in women’s own homes as well as in hospitals throughout the UK.
Download our Doula UK leaflets here
Doulas are usually experienced women who have completed some basic training. We do not offer clinical skills and are not medically trained.
The majority of doulas are employed directly by their clients while others may choose to volunteer. The Doula Access Fund (formerly a Doula UK project and soon to become a standalone charity) provides free birth and postnatal doulas to women in need and works with women’s refuges to ensure vulnerable women are supported as they become mothers. There are a small number of NHS-employed doulas and a number of voluntary schemes and projects as well as Social Services/Childrens’ Centres funded doula work.
A wide variety of women and families (from different communities, with different needs and planning all kinds of birth) hire doulas. We work with new parents who make a diverse range of parenting choices and believe there is a doula out there for every woman.
While doulas are not there to change outcomes there is growing evidence that having a birth or postnatal doula brings a number of tangible benefits. From reducing intervention rates, shortening labour and improving the condition of babies at birth. While this research is important, it’s the less tangible benefits of having a non-judgemental companion during a life-altering event that most women remember and value.
How much do doulas cost?
Doulas registered with Doula UK are self-employed and clients pay them directly. How much a doula charges will vary depending on the area they work in, their level of experience, what they include in the fee and what they feel their service is worth. In addition some doulas may volunteer through various projects or work within the NHS.
Doula UK recommends parents contact individual doulas and discuss their package and fees directly.
Many doulas have some flexibility about their fees and how they are paid, so if you looking to book a doula, but are concerned you cannot afford their fees – it is worth talking with a few local doulas to see if they can help.
A Doula UK recognised birth doula usually charges a fixed price for a birth doula support package which is fully explained and agreed at time of booking. Exactly what this includes will vary from doula to doula. Expenses and mileage may be included in this package fee or may be invoiced later.
Mentored doulas generally charge less to reflect their level of experience.
A deposit (retainer fee) is usually required on booking with a birth doula.
A Doula UK postnatal doula usually charges an hourly rate. They may have a minimum number of hours for booking, and/or a minimum number of hours (e.g. 3 hours) that they will be at any one time. Expenses and mileage may be included or may be additional. Charges should be fully explained and agreed at time of booking.
Mentored postnatal doulas generally charge less to reflect their level of experience.
A deposit (retainer fee) may be required on booking with a postnatal doula.
Why choose a Doula UK doula?
A member of Doula UK:
- Has completed a preparation course that means she has learned how to best offer the practical and emotional support you need
- Has been through (or is still going through) the Doula UK Recognition Process – a period of mentoring from a more experienced doula so that you can benefit from years of doula experience
- Is continually learning and developing through the membership community and support network of Doula UK
- Is recommended to have appropriate insurance and to provide clients with a clear, written agreement (ask them about that)
- Is committed to abiding by Doula UK’s Philosophy, Code of Conduct and Infant Feeding Guidance.
- Furthermore your confidentiality is protected by the Social Media Guidelines and safeguarding policies to protect you and your doula.
Doula UK is a membership organisation, and we trust that the information our doulas provide us with is truthful. However if we are made aware of any circumstance which we consider would preclude a member working with your family or in the presence of children, we will rescind membership immediately. Please ask your doula for references, and a DBS certificate if you feel it is necessary (please note that having a DBS certificate is not a condition of Doula UK membership).
Doula UK also has a complaints and feedback system if, for some reason, you are not happy with the service from your doula.
Help with hiring a doula
How to find a doula
Many doulas happily travel to clients and, particularly in more rural areas, it is not uncommon for doulas to consider a 25 mile (or sometimes even longer) distance to a client perfectly acceptable.
You can do a search based on your postcode district (the first part of your postcode) on our Find a doula page. You will then be presented with a randomised list of doulas who are happy to work in that particular area. We recommend you then contact some doulas by email or telephone.
When making an initial enquiry, the important things to ask are: “Are you available for my dates?” “What are your fees?”
How to choose a doula
The Doula UK membership have come to be doulas through a variety of journeys, but all are passionate about their work. The most important thing to consider when employing a doula is “Do I/we like this doula? Can I/we spend time with them? Can I/we trust them?”
You will find there are as many different doulas as there are people. Feel free to ask around and interview several doulas (we suggest first by phone and then face-to-face). If it makes you feel more comfortable, ask a doula for references from previous clients. The right doula for you will be someone who makes you feel comfortable, shows they care and is genuinely invested in supporting you. Their doula experience or ability to provide other services are secondary to the most important part of the relationship: do you ‘click’?
If you need some help getting discussion going when interviewing a doula, we have put together some suggested points of discussion for when interviewing a doula here.
Help with affording a doula
If you would like to hire a doula, but don’t think you can afford it, it may still be possible!
To start with, mentored doulas charge a lot less than recognised doulas. If you can’t find an available mentored doula in your area, contact us and we’ll see if we can help.
If you would really like to hire a particular doula, but would struggle to pay their usual fees, do still get in touch and have a chat with them. Many Doula UK members are willing to offer payment plans, negotiate reduced fees for families in genuine financial need or even accept services or goods in lieu of cash.
You may also have the option of asking for Doula UK gift vouchers instead of presents to offset some of the cost of hiring a doula. Doula support or yet another soft toy – you choose!